NFL free agency has been in full swing for a couple weeks now. Prong's Ruining Lives drops courtesy of Steamhammer/SPV on April 28; we asked longtime mainman Tommy Victor what he would do if he were in charge of his favorite team, the New York Jets. Snap your fingers, snap the ball, do not buttfumble. Well this is an interesting day to write a report on the J-E-T-S, JETS! JETS! JETS!
With all the needs to be addressed, the Jets front office still focuses on the big headline acquisitions. Today, just hours ago [actually Friday, March 21 - ed], they signed veteran Mike Vick as a possible tutor/competitor to quarterback Geno Smith. Mark Sanchez is finally history, something that definitely needed to be done. I must admit, I like this deal. I, too, would have signed Vick to maybe straighten Smith out and be a potential starter at our tumultuous position.
But there's so many other issues that haven't been addressed, that need to be.
The sentiment around Jet Nation is that the GM, John Idzik, missed out on free-agent targets, misreading the market and miscalculating the huge salary cap changes in the NFL this year, where the cap is now up to $133 million. I tend to agree. I think he overanalyzed free agency.
He's left a hole at the defensive position of cornerback, and head coach Rex Ryan has expressed displeasure at that. I would have never released Antonio Cromartie, with the thought of maybe resigning him at lower pay. Arizona grabbed him, and now he's gone. Yes, I would have tried to get Darrelle Revis back. We are way under the salary cap, so although he was pricey, we had the money. Now our nemesis New England has him. We needed a veteran CB. Now we are stuck with second-year player Dee Milliner and the underproductive Kyle Wilson, whom I've never been happy with. His answer has been to resign Lankster, Walls and Johnny Patrick, cut by the Chargers, all just not good enough.
The safety position is also in need. Antonio Allen performed fairly well in the strong safety role, especially against the run. Dawan Landry and the aging Ed Reed provided some experience to the secondary, but they never made a difference from against the pass. That’s what we should be looking for, as none of their safeties graded positive in pass coverage last season. Chris Clemons is a good pass coverage safety and is still available in free agency. I'd sign him.
If there is a position group in the league that needed to be vastly improved, that’s the Jets' wide receivers. Santonio Holmes has been let go, something I don't believe any Jet fan would have disagreed with. Owner Woody Johnson and Idzik again went with the sexy free agent signing of Eric Decker, which I don't believe will come close to solving the problem. Look who he was surrounded with at Denver! The two Thomases and Wes Welker! Look who was passing to him! That leaves us with only Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson as options for Geno or Vick. Stephen Hill isn’t anywhere close to the player they expected he would be, and could be on the way out if he doesn't get better this offseason. We need to trade for DeSean Jackson. With Vick knowing offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg 's offense, and his past relationship with Jackson, it just makes sense.
The tight end position should be a priority in the 2014 draft. Although I like Jeff Cumberland, who was resigned, he's not the answer. We need a weapon and a blocking TE.
Now on to the offensive line, another shortcoming. The Jets offensive line ranked 25th in 2013, down from third in 2012. The problem's at left guard: first with Vlad Ducasse, then with the rookie Brian Winters. That hurt the whole unit, especially the star players, Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson. The new contract for Willie Colon was a good move for the right side. The bad news for the right side being the departure of the impressive Austin Howard, who just got nabbed by the Raiders. Another miscalculation by Idzik, unable to get a grip on the budget and the ramifications of letting proven Jets move on.
Thank goodness we didn't let Nick Folk go. The kicker was our biggest playmaker last year! That was a no-brainier. But a lot of this offseason's decisions should have been obvious. In reality, at 8-8, we didn't do too bad last year. Keeping that nucleus while making solid improvements where necessary is -- or was -- the way the way to get us in the playoffs. Keeping key guys should have been a priority. Letting them go to sign elsewhere and leaving mysterious holes in their positions makes no sense. Having great opportunities on the free agent market and an ocean of salary cap, our needs could have painlessly been met before the speculations of the draft. And based upon what we've seen from Rex and Woody calling the shots in the draft, we can't be too confident. If I was was GM, I would reel Rex in, like the big-mouthed tuna he is, and maybe have Marty in the draft room, too. There, maybe we can get a cross perspective on playmakers rather than just guys that are thought to be "cool " or headline-makers. We should focus on talent rather than NY Post popularity.